What Is FAST? Free Ad-Supported TV Explained
FAST is taking the digital market by storm, but what is it really, and should you get into it?
If your company produces video content or does advertising of any kind, we are certain you have heard about free ad-supported TV (FAST). FASTs are free, ad-supported streaming television services. It might sound like any regular streaming platform, but these channels usually stick to one theme and might offer content such as science, western, fishing, or history.
The most popular services offering FAST channels are Tubi (FOX), Pluto TV (ViacomCBS), Xumo (NBCU), The Roku Channel (RokuTV), and Samsung TV+ (Samsung).
TV viewers have been “cord-cutting” since the advent of OTT media and other streaming platforms, and FAST is just another reason to ditch cable television. FAST channels seem like a more reasonable approach to entertainment—you pay a small fee and get access to premium on-demand content.
FAST channels make their money from advertising while other services such as Netflix make their money from membership and subscription payments. Channels can generate large revenue when they can achieve a huge number of individual views.
With linear television declining in popularity, many viewers are switching to streaming platforms, and advertisers are making the migration with them. If you’re still unclear on what exactly FAST channels are, this article should clear up your confusion and get you more prepared to make the switch.
Two Types of FAST Channels
These channels fall under a certain niche and are published by the media and catalog holders. They follow the same idea as the thematic channels on regular television. These channels cover every topic from cooking to history, and science fiction, mystery, etc.
These channels are published by companies and brands, and they usually offer content related to their business, its products, and its services. These channels also showcase content to which they have acquired the rights.
Why You Should Launch a FAST Channel
Increase income from your videos
Through ad monetization, FAST channels are a great way to increase and diversify income with your content. You can increase the number of impressions your ad creates—whether it’s on CTV platforms or YouTube channels.
A FAST channel allows you to try out new business models which could in turn allow your content to reach new audiences and increase views.
Get the best value out of your content
FAST is almost a replica of how we used to watch television before the digital era took over. The system is predictable and easy to understand. If you have a content catalog, you can make it live through linear TV channel streaming.
This will enable you to promote your content rather than have it “rest” on a server without being used.
Promote your content
FAST channels dramatically increase the number of people that come in contact with and know your channel. By making a TV channel, you distribute it to services like Pluto or Samsung+ and garner hundreds of millions of viewers from these services.
Thematic channels help you meet your target audience
Viewers are unsubscribing from cable TV subscriptions more and more these days, and cord-cutting is becoming even more common. This means that the viewers who made up a majority of traditional TV viewers are now migrating to services like FAST channels.
Thematic channels offer more relevant content to a specific audience; therefore attracting many enthusiastic audiences. These audiences wouldn’t mind watching advertising as a kind of payment for the content they enjoy. Thematic channels have been a huge success in cable television, and there’s no doubt that FAST channels will grow at the same pace.
Great marketing tool
When it comes to promotion and engagement, there is hardly a platform or service that beats FAST channels. If you already have a paid streaming platform, your free linear services will be a beacon encouraging engagement and promoting your content to a wider audience.
Offering quality content will help to convince your audience that your products/services are worth buying.
There are numerous FAST platforms
FAST services are included in a lot of big-name platforms such as Paramount, Fox, Amazon, and even Peacock. Amazon offers IMDBTV, Paramount offers Pluto, Fox offers Tubi, Comcast offers Xumo, and even Samsung has a service of its own.
Why Viewers Love FAST
Viewers spend a lot of money on streaming video content every month, and for many, the reduced cost which FAST offers is a relief.
These viewers are looking for a better service that provides more value for their money, and they don’t mind viewing free programming with ads thrown into the mix. With linear television, there are at least 15 minutes of advertising thrown into each program, so it doesn’t make much of a difference.
The FAST industry is also evolving, and the audience will be subject to more personalized ads with time, based on how they interact with content and other data.
Do Users Have to Sit Through the Ads?
The tradeoff for receiving free content is that you, as a viewer, tolerate the ads that run during your shows. Don’t forget that these ads are the way FAST services generate revenue, so it’s only fair that you pay in some way other than money.
Every service you watch; whether on-demand video or live channel, will be interrupted by ads from time to time.
Which App is Most Suitable for Families?
Age-appropriate shows are available in stacks on Peacock, Tubi, and Roku Channel. For younger children and young teenagers, Freevee has plenty of age-appropriate titles. Kids will get the best content from Pluto which offers kid-dedicated channels such as Lego, Nickelodeon, and more.
The growth of FAST has been something of a novelty, mostly because who doesn’t like content that they don’t pay for? It’s not so easy to see how well FAST services are performing; mostly because most FAST services keep their revenue private.
However, there’s no denying that this streaming service is something to hop on. The key is to focus on user experience to maintain relevance and authenticity.